Intel’s 6th Generation Skylake Processors Scheduled For 2H 2015 – 5th Generation Broadwell in Spring ’15, Updates 2015 – 2016 Mobility Roadmap

Hassan Mujtaba

Intel has yet again updated its processor roadmap showcasing that they are on schedule with their upcoming products such as Skylake, Broadwell, Braswell and the new mobility cores. There have been widespread rumors that Intel would be delaying their Skylake processors to 2016 but a second roadmap update debunks the false claims showing that 2015 would be a major update in regards to processor architecture and technology with the simultaneous launch of a Tick (Broadwell) and Tock (Skylake).

Image Credits: Zdnet

Intel Updates 2015-2016 Roadmap With 5th Generation Broadwell and 6th Generation Skylake CPUs

As we know, Intel has already launched their first iteration of their chips based on the Broadwell architecture codenamed "Core M". We did a fairly detailed analysis of Core M (Broadwell-Y) a few months ago and from the looks of it, Core M is based on a true 14nm node from Intel and the same node would be carried over to the performance oriented chips arriving in Spring of 2015. Intel's Core M will be adopted by performance tablets and mainstream notebooks in this quarter with reviews already hitting the web while the performance SKUs will be coming in Spring of 2015 and featured in high performance notebooks and All-In-One PCs.

In all honesty, Broadwell is just a node shrink with a average IPC improvement around 5%, +/- a few percentage however Broadwell does come with some power enhancements and those are fairly great for the notebook to mobility side of things featuring TDPs of 15/28W on the BGA chips while Braswell on the other hand is based on the 14nm Airmont architecture will be a SOC / BGA chip for J-Series Processors and come in >10W TDPs. It will be adopted in Celeron and Pentium series SKUs and is a direct competitor for AMD's AM1 series parts given the power and pricing range. Braswell will be featuring the 8th Generation graphics chip that is going to be featured on modern Broadwell processors along with DirectX 11 API and Windows + Android OS support.

So enough with the mobility parts, we will come back to them in a bit after detailing the desktop parts. Usually, server and desktop parts are considered the meat of any given CPU architecture showcasing their real potential and in 2015, Intel will launch two desktop parts, Broadwell-K and Skylake-S. We have given you details on these parts several times before but let's do a recap. A recent roadmap update which was showcased two weeks ago revealed Broadwell-K (Unlocked) to be arriving in the 1H of 2015. Broadwell-K will be compatible with the LGA 1150 socketed motherboards featuring the 9-Series chipsets (Z97/H97). Broadwell-K is similar to Devil's Canyon which were the enthusiast Haswell parts built for overclockers. You can call these Devil's Canyon II (not an official name) and will be part of Intel's 5th Generation Core family featuring the Core i5-5000 and Core i7-5000 series processors.

Intel 5th Generation Broadwell - Core i7-5000 and Core i5-5000 Series Processors

The desktop chips have been confirmed to feature Intel’s 8th generation Iris Pro graphics chips. Intel Iris Pro graphics chips features double the execution units of the HD 4600 graphics chip (40 vs 20) and comes with its own 128 MB of on-package eDRAM codenamed ‘CrystalWell’. This super fast LLC helps deliver the Iris Pro graphics chip with 25.6GB/s + 50GB/s eDRAM (bidirectional) which fulfills its bandwidth requirement. The Crystalwell eDRAM is located on a separate package on the CPU die. On 8th generation Broadwell, the CPU is going to feature a total of 48 execution units with support for DirectX 12 API, VP8 Codec, 2xMSAA Support, Improved Tessellation and Low CPU Overhead. We can also confirm that just like Haswell, Broadwell will have a Voltage Regulator on chip. There will also be a power controller on chip. This will allow as much as C10 level of low power state computing. the U and H variants will both have a Extreme Tuning Utility which will allow easy overclocking of both the CPU and GPU. In such a case, we can obviously expect better performance from the Broadwell line of Core processors.

Intel 6th Generation Skylake - Core i7-6000 and Core i5-6000 Series Processors

The second update on desktop would arrive in 2H of 2015 in the form of Skylake-S. Now Skylake is also based on a 14nm architecture but its a microarchitecture built from the ground up. The Skylake-S processors which are the mainstream line will be branded as the 6th Generation Core i5-6000 and Core i7-6000 parts. Skylake will feature compatibility with the LGA 1151 socketed motherboards based on the 100-Series (Z170/H170) series Sunrise Point chipset. Now just like Haswell Refresh, these S-Series parts will not feature any unlocked SKUs but will give users an early experience of Intel's new mainstream platform with DDR4 compatibility which currently exists only on the HEDT X99 chipset platform on the consumer front.

The transition to Z170 chipset will not be a massive upgrade and would be similar to what the Z97 was to Z87 with a little added features such as more PCI-e lanes, Super Speed USB and up to 10 USB ports compared to 6 standard ones found on the current iteration of motherboards. There will be a total of six 100-series chipset SKUs which will include the Z170 (Performance)replacing the Z97, H170 (Mainstream) replacing the H97, H110 (Value) replacing the H81, B150 (Small and medium Business) replacing the B85 and the Q170 plus Q150 chips with Intel vPro / SIPP which will replace the Q87 and Q85. So as you can note,Intel has the entire replacement plan ready which will update the current desktop chipset stack in 2015. Intel is already phasing out their Ivy Bridge-E and Z77/H77/H75/Q75 chipsets in early 2015. This transition won’t eliminate support for Z97 or Z87 in 2015 since there would be a majority of consumers who will still be running Broadwell and Haswell processors since these platforms have spanned a longer shelve-time in the market and will cease to exist along side each other for a couple of years.

The Z170 would be the flagship performance chipset which will support the unlocked K-Series Skylake processors which I don’t believe would be available in early 2015 and launch a bit later. The chipset will feature up to 20 PCIe Gen 3 lanes, 6 SATA Gen 3 ports, 10 USB 3.0 ports and a total of 14 total USB ports (USB 3.0 / USB 2.0), up to 3 SATA Express capable ports, up to 3 Intel RST capable PCI-e storage ports which may include x2 SATA Express or M.2 SSD port with Enhanced SPI and x4/x8/x16 capable Gen 3 PCI-Express support from the processor. Aside from that, we know that the Skylake processors would be compatible with the latest LGA 1151 socketed boards and Z170 chipset which is part of the new 100-Series chipset replacing the 9-Series “Wild Cat” PCH. The second most interesting thing covered is that Skylake processors would have both DDR3 and DDR4 memory controllers so the different SKUs can be configured to use either of the memory type.

Intel Skylake-S and Skylake SKUs Configuration:

Intel 14nm Skylake Configuration Table
Cores Configurations 2 2 / 2 4 / 4 4 / 2 / 4
Graphic Configurations GT2 GT2 / GT3e GT2 / GT4e GT2 / GT2 / GT4e
eDRAM - 64MB – GT3e 128MB – GT4e 64MB – GT4e
Memory LPDDR3 1600Mhz LPDDR3 1600Mhz DDR4 2133Mhz DDR3L/DDR3L-RS 1600Mhz, DDR4 2133Mhz
TDP 4W 15-28W 35-45W 35-95W

The TDPs for the Skylake processors were also confirmed last month which further detailed the various core configurations of Skylake SKUs. The desktop variants will have six different variants which will include the flagship 95W Quad Cores with GT2 and GT4e GPU while the lowest 35W TDP variant will feature Dual Cores and GT2 graphics. The H-Series lineup will also include the 95W Quad Core with GT4e graphics chip but that’s the only flagship chip followed by 65W, 55W and 45W Quad Core variants with a mix of GT4e and GT2 graphics. Skylake would also get rid of the FVIR (Fully Integrated Voltage Regulator) which was featured on Haswell generation processors and will continue to be used till Broadwell processors in 1H 2015 after which Intel will abandon the design.

This H-Series doesn’t seem to include a dual core model at all. The U-Series lineup will have TDPs of 25W and 15W with the flagship part featuring Dual Cores and GT3e graphics while the other models consist of GT2 graphics. Last up is the Y-Series Skylake lineup featuring two SKUs, both featuring 4.5W TDP and 2 Cores plus GT2 graphics. The difference between them is not clearly mentioned however we think its related to clock speeds. You can get a better representation of the variants in the following chart:

SKUs x86 Cores Graphics TDP
Skylake DT 4 GT4e 95W
Skylake DT 4 GT2 95W
Skylake DT 4 GT2 65W
Skylake DT 2 GT2 65W
Skylake DT 2 GT2 35W
Skylake DT 4 GT2 35W
H-Series 4 GT43 95W
H-Series 4 GT4e 65W
H-Series 4 GT4e 55W
H-Series 4 GT4e 45W
H-Series 4 GT2 65W
H-Series 4 GT2 55W
H-Series 4 GT2 45W
U-Series 2 GT3e 25W
U-Series 2 GT3e 15W
U-Series 2 GT2 25W
U-Series 2 GT2 15W
Y-Series A 2 GT2 4.5W
Y-Series B 2 GT2 4.5W

We will also get several new Wireless technology on the 100-Series chipset such as Snowfield Peak (WiFi + Blue-tooth) replacing Wilkins Peak, Douglas Peak (WiGig+ WiFi + BT) replacing Stone Peak and Maple Peak and the Pine Peak plus WWAN LTE chips (XMM 726x) replacing the WWAN XMM7160) for wireless connectivity.  Intel is also introducing the latest Alpine Ridge thunderbolt controller with Skylake pushing speeds of 40Gb/s, double that of last generation. For LAN, Intel will introduce Jacksonville to replace Clarksville. Samples of the Skylake-S CPUs have already been demonstrated by Intel at IDF14 this year and just recently, a Skylake-S ES was pictured with 2.4 GHz base and 2.9 GHz boost clock (TDP 95W). This shows that Skylake-S will be on schedule.

Intel Mainstream Platforms Comparison Chart:

Intel Sandy Bridge Platform Intel Ivy Bridge Platform Intel Haswell Platform Intel Broadwell Platform Intel Skylake Platform Intel Cannonlake Platform
Processor Architecture Sandy Bridge Ivy Bridge Haswell Broadwell Skylake Cannonlake
Processor Process 32nm 22nm 22nm 14nm 14nm 10nm
Processors Cores (Max) 4 4 4 4 4 TBA
Platform Chipset 6-Series “Cougar Point” 7-Series “Panther Point” 8-Series “Lynx Point” 9-Series “Wild Cat Point” 100-Series “Sunrise Point” 200-Series “Union Point”
Platform Socket LGA 1155 LGA 1155 LGA 1150 LGA 1150 LGA 1151 TBA
Memory Support DDR3 DDR3 DDR3 DDR3 DDR4 / DDR3 DDR4
Thunderbolt Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes “Alpine Ridge” Yes
Platform Desktop LGA Desktop LGA Desktop LGA Desktop LGA Desktop LGA Desktop LGA
Launch 2011 2012 2013-2014 2015 2015 2016

Intel Mobility Update With Broxton, SoFIA MID, SoFIA LTE 2

Back to the mobile front, Intel has three updates for 2016 with Broxton (Quad Core SOC based on 14nm Goldmont) which will be featured in performance mobile platforms while the SoFIA MID will go for the mid-tier Quad Core based LTE solutions. The part of 2015 will be updated with Cherry Trail and Moorefield while on the value side, several SoFIA 3G (Dual Core), SoFIA 3G-R (Quad Core), SoFIA LTE (Quad Core w/LTE) will launch in 2015 while 2016 will feature the SoFIA LTE 2 update based on 14nm process.

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